March 27, 2019

Produce organizations seek Electronic Logging Device modifications

Twenty-five ag-related organizations from across the U.S. signed a petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Administration, Department of Transportation, asking for modification to the Hours of Service (HOS) and Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rules for producers, handlers and shippers of perishable fruit and vegetables.

Considered essential to the safe and timely delivery of perishable fruits and vegetables across the United States, the requested modifications will give increased flexibility to truck drivers for the delivery of perishable commodities, according to Craig Anderson of the Michigan Farm Bureau’s Ag Labor, one of the organizations signing the petition.

The intent ensures driver and public safety and combats the challenges growers and shippers face across the supply chain. The petitioners have asked for the following changes to the HOS rules:

  • Add an allowance for drivers to rest at any point during their trip without counting this rest time against their HOS allotments
  • Exclude loading and unloading times from the 14-hour on-duty HOS calculations
  • Allow drivers to complete their trip, regardless of HOS requirements, if they come within 150 air miles of their delivery point

The petition takes into consideration safety of both the driver and consumer to deliver quality produce while following USDA requirements. Current HOS and ELD requirements contribute to higher volumes of undesirable food waste and delays in shipping and delivery can destroy the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Modifying the HOS and ELD regulations for perishable commodities, says Anderson, will better align FMCSA with the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Rule, which spells out food safety requirements.

Current HOS rules do not allow a driver to turn off the ELD when stopping to rest along a route. The petition asks for driver ability to pause the ELD during rest periods and loading times. This would add an allowance for drivers to rest at any point during their trip without counting this rest time against their HOS allotments.

Loading, unloading time exclusion

In addition, it asks the FMCSA to consider excluding loading and unloading times from the 14-hour on-duty HOS calculations. To help address both concerns, the petition asks for adding flexibility to the Split Sleeper Berth Provision that allows for splitting sleeper berth time, adding up to a 10-hour rest period, and allowing for more flexibility to take shorter breaks when drivers need them.

The petition is specific to those hauling perishable commodities.

If the recommendations for modifications to the HOS and ELD regulations are not made, the signers of the petition suggest delaying enforcement of current HOS and ELD rules for trucks hauling perishable fruits and vegetables for two to four years to allow for improvement in the regulations.